BATON ROUGE, La. – A two-run home run from Bianka Bell in the bottom of the fifth inning lifted No. 25/23 LSU to a 6-5 victory against Mississippi State on Friday night inside Tiger Park. The Bulldogs erased a 4-0 deficit with a five-run fourth inning to go ahead 5-4, but Bell’s late blast provided the difference.
Mississippi State (37-17, 9-13 SEC) had five players drive in a run and five score a run. Junior Julia Echols, senior Logan Foulks and freshman Katie Anne Bailey each collected two hits to lead the offense.
Freshman Alexis Silkwood (12-6) took the loss for Mississippi State, throwing four-and-a-third frames, yielding six runs on nine hits and two walks. She also fanned six. The six whiffs increased her season total to 145, the second most by a freshman in MSU history. Sophomore Jacey Punches entered for the final inning-and-two-thirds, limiting LSU to just a walk and single. LSU’s Ashley Czechner (12-11) went the distance, allowing five runs, two earned, on 11 hits and a trio of walks. She struck out five.
LSU (33-20, 12-10 SEC) jumped out to a quick lead, going ahead 2-0 in the bottom of the first. A.J. Andrews singled up the middle and stole second base. After a strikeout, Sahvanna Jaquish hit a two-run home run to left. Silkwood settled back down with a groundout and strikeout.
The Bulldogs loaded the bases in the top of the second but could not convert. Echols led off with a four-pitch walk and moved to second on a groundout. Bailey was hit by a pitch and sophomore Kayla Winkfield singled to load the bases with one out, but consecutive strikeouts stranded the trio.
The Tigers used a two-out rally in the bottom of the second to extend the lead to 3-0. After a strikeout and lineout started the frame, Tammy Wray doubled off the wall in center and scored on a single up the middle from Bailey Landry. A fly out ended the inning as senior left fielder Jessica Offutt made the diving catch.
It was another LSU two-out rally in the bottom of the third that extended the lead to 4-0. With two outs and Bell on first following a fielder’s choice, Kellsi Kloss doubled off the wall in right to move Bell to third. A wild pitch plated Bell before a strikeout ended the frame.
Mississippi State broke loose in the top of the fourth with five runs and went ahead 5-4. Echols hit the first pitch of the frame over the wall in left. Foulks followed with a long ball to center to make it a 4-2 contest. Bailey kept it going with a single down the left-field line. Winkfield followed with a sacrifice bunt that moved Bailey to second. After a strikeout, Offutt dropped a single into shallow right center that plated Bailey and made it a one-run deficit. Senior Heidi Shape bunted for a single and freshman Caroline Seitz singled to center to plate Offutt and even the score at 4-4. Senior Sam Lenahan delivered a single to right that drove in Shape for the one-run advantage. Seitz was thrown out at home on the play to close the inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Tigers put two runners on but were held off the board. With one out, Wray and Landry hit consecutive singles to put runners on first and second. Andrews popped out to Winkfield at shortstop and pinch hitter Alayna Falcon struck out swinging to strand the pair.
MSU put two of its own runners on base in the top of the fifth and also stranded the pair. Echols led off with a single and Bailey singled after a foul out. Winkfield flew out to left and freshman pinch hitter Mackenzie Toler hit into a fielder’s choice. Toler grounded one up the middle and shortstop Bell tossed to second, but Bailey was safe. The ball rolled away from second baseman Allison Falcon, but Bell recovered and threw home to get Echols out at the plate to end the inning.
LSU regained the lead at 6-5 in the bottom of the fifth with a two-run home run from Bell. Jaquish led off with a walk and was replaced by pinch runner Alex Boulet. Bell then hit a ball just over the wall in right center for the lead. After a pop out, Sandra Simmons doubled down the right-field line to chase Silkwood. Punches entered and ended the threat with consecutive fly outs to left field.
A key double play in the bottom of the sixth allowed MSU to keep it a one-run game going to the seventh inning. Landry walked on four pitches to start the frame. After Andrews was called out for batter interference, Jacee Blades singled off the glove of Punches but Jaquish grounded into a double play to end the inning.
The Bulldogs put the tying run and go-ahead run on base in the top of the seventh, but could not even the score. After a fly out, Echols was hit by a pitch. Foulks delivered a single on the ninth pitch of her at-bat to put runners on first and second with one out. Czechner ended the contest with a foul out and groundout.
The teams continue the series with a 7 p.m. CT contest Saturday.
- Mississippi State hit consecutive home runs for the first time since April 22, 2013, versus Middle Tennessee State. Julia Echols and Briana Bell went deep in the fifth inning against the Blue Raiders.
- The Bulldogs scored five runs in the top of the fourth. MSU has scored four or more in a frame in each of the team’s last three contests.
- Mississippi State has scored four or more runs in seven SEC frames this year.
- MSU has hit four home runs in the last three games. In the previous 16 games the Bulldogs had tallied four long balls.
- Senior Heidi Shape walked in the first inning to increase her consecutive games reaching base streak to 17, the longest on the team this season.
- Shape drew two walks to give her 39 on the year, the eighth most by an MSU player in program history.
- Shape has recorded eight walks in the last four games.
- Freshman Katie Anne Bailey tied her career high with two hits. It is a personal best for a Southeastern Conference contest.
- Junior Echols went two-for-two with a walk and hit by pitch. In her last four games, Echols is hitting .667 (eight-for-12) with a walk and a two hit by pitches.
- Freshman Alexis Silkwood struck out six batters to increase her season total to 145, the second most by a freshman in program history. Lindsey Dunlap owns the Bulldogs’ rookie record with 161 whiffs in 2009.